How to Recognize and Stop Emotional Eating
It’s the reason why so many diets fail: We don’t always eat just to satisfy hunger. Many of us also turn to food to relieve stress or cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, loneliness, or boredom. And after eating, we feel even worse.
Not only does the original emotional issue remain, but we also feel guilty for overeating. No matter how powerless you feel over your food cravings, there is a solution.
In this article we are going to help you identify if you’re an emotional eater. But most important show you how to change the habits that have sabotaged your diet in the past, so that you regain control over your food and feelings.
What is emotional eating?
Emotional eating (or stress eating) is using food to make yourself feel better—eating to satisfy emotional needs, rather than to satisfy physical hunger. You might reach for a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down, order a pizza if you’re bored or lonely, or swing by the drive-through after a stressful day at work.
Occasionally using food as a pick me up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.
Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed.
Symptoms of an Emotional Eater?
- You eat when you are stressed. When you have things to do (work / studies / exams), you reach out for food subconsciously. Especially when you’re up late at night and by yourself, though it can happen in the day and in front of others too.
- You eat as a response to your emotions. You eat when you feel sad / annoyed / disappointed/ angry / lonely/ empty / anxious/ tired / bored. It’s a reaction so subconsciously embedded that you don’t even think about it. You just automatically reach out for food whenever you experience those emotions.
- You seek solace in food. When you feel down, you seek out “comfort food”. You bury yourself in food like ice cream, cake, chips, chocolate and cookies, even though they are absolute junk and have zero nutritional value. For some reason you can’t quite explain, they provide you with comfort.
- You have trouble losing weight (due to the way you eat). Even though you want to lose weight and you know the technicalities behind losing weight such as the foods and quantities you should eat, you have trouble sticking to your diet.
- You eat even though you are rightfully full. No matter how much you eat, no matter how full you feel, you never feel quite satisfied. Whatever satisfaction you get from eating is momentary, and you return to eating after a while to recapture that emotion.
- You have random food cravings out of the blue. Sometimes, you get urges to eat certain food, which you can’t explain yourself. And it’s not even that you’re hungry. It’s just a craving which you must satisfy, else you’ll feel unhappy for the day.
Here are 3 Steps you can take that will help you overcome emotional eating.
#1 Identify your emotional triggers. What situations, places, or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food? Most emotional eating is linked to unpleasant feelings, but it can also be triggered by positive emotions, such as rewarding yourself for achieving a goal or celebrating a holiday or happy event. Before you reach for food, grab a pencil and a journal and write down how you feel and what foods you’re craving at that point and time.
#2 Find other ways to feed your feelings. In order to stop emotional eating, you have to find other ways to fulfill yourself emotionally. It’s not enough to understand the cycle of emotional eating or even to understand your triggers, although that’s a huge first step. You need alternatives to food that you can turn to for emotional fulfillment. Here are a few things to try.
Non-Food Comforts and Rewards
- Get a massage
- Take a relaxing bath
- Give yourself a massage
- Do some aromatherapy
- Soak in a hot tub
- Go to a fun workout class
- New exercise clothes or equipment
- Healthy recipe book
- Relax with a hot pack
- Listen to music you love
- Go dancing
- Phone a friend
- Write in a journal
- Read a good book
- Play with your pet
- Play with your kids
- Cuddle with a loved one
- Watch funny videos
#3 Forgive Yourself & Others
In order for you to move forward in your life it’s going to require to release what’s holding you back. This includes forgive those who’ve hurt or wrong you. And most importantly forgiving yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. There are 3 powerful phrases that I love because they allow you to release and heal when you truly own them.
#1 I Forgive Myself
#2 I Love Myself
#3 I Am Enough
The Wrap Up?
Emotional eating is probably the number one reason most people struggle to lose weight. The great news is you have the power to change it if you’re willing to do the work. We believe that you can transform your body and live the life that you love. You are totally worth it. And if you need help on how to get started. Just click below to apply for your FREE Breakthrough Session today!